Good. Bad. Food. Sleep.

July 21, 2016:

In a city of danger, The Hulk surprisingly makes a new friend.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Bruce Banner walks among the rubble on the outskirts of this so-called Monster City. That wasn't the real name, of course, but it's what they've started to call it already. The media liked their easy headlines, especially when they frightened the general public into staying glued to their digital devices for more updates.

Bruce had been rather at loose ends lately. With the Avengers falling apart, Melody busy with Oliver Queen and the Authority…well, he just didn't want to deal with Slade anymore - Bruce was back the way he'd been for the most part in his life - on his own.

And when he hears the word 'monster', he figures it might relate to him - or might have a few people like him in it. He's been called a monster plenty himself.

Perhaps it was the sense of lonliness in a place like this. Perhaps.. just perhaps. Reese felt it all too much now a days, set to wandering as she would. Always on foot, always with the branch in her hand. Always, and most times, underneath the world to travel the path that belonged to only her. The footfalls of another surprised her in a place like this, her head tilting.. rising from the hidden spot where she ate a bit of her jerky and drank some water is where she stood.

And she was ready.

Fighting was not her fortay but she could do things that would make skin crawl. They could rend and tear her apart, and she would still live after a nice meal and a quick regeneration that rivaled -nearly- the best. "Who goes there?" The blind little woman speaks, holding her gnarled branch protectively. She was like a beacon of light in a place so dark..

..but even -she- felt like she existed for once.

Bruce Banner comes across the woman and looks at her in confusion for a moment. He has a few pieces of sensor equipment - geiger counter, particle detector, a few others - but nothing that could detect magic or anything different about Reese. But she's a blind woman wary in an abandoned city full of unknown creatures.

She was either in tremendous danger or dangerous in her own right. But Bruce has nothing to fear. He gave that up a long time ago. Fatalism has its benefits.

"No one who wants to hurt you. My name's Bruce. I'm a scientist. I'm trying to find out…what happened here."

Those sounds radiating from the man were odd. So much that the clicking and the whirring noises from the geiger counter were giving her a tiny bit of a headache. No one ever said that having heightened senses were a blessing, but dulling and drowning out the sound with this voice? It helps.

"Oh." Reese finally murmurs, straightening into a slightly relaxed stance, before thinking better of it and bending to snag her food from the ground to stuff into her bag. "I'm blind and I can tell you what happened here." She states plainly, finally rising from behind the rocks, her hand reaching out to grasp ahold to step over whatever was in the way.

It was a body. Petrified. Salt. But don't tell Reese that. No.

"And you're here by yourself?" She asks, pausing just to hear his voice. She does take a step, possibly in the wrong direction, but she won't know until he speaks. "Do you know how dangerous this place is?"

Bruce Banner shakes his head, "I don't know yet. I'm here to find out, after all. But don't worry about me. I can promise you, I'm in no danger."

She can probably sense enough to feel he's telling the truth. There's no increase i n his heartrate, no nervousness about the man, except, perhaps, the nerves of dealing with a stranger. Odd that he can have no fear of death but conversation makes him feel awkward.

"You don't seem particularly worried about the danger either. So why don't you tell me what you know?"

"If you say so." Reese mutters, taking those few steps closer towards the man, at least now that she heard his voice. She -could- tell that he was telling the truth, but something was strange about him. She didn't too much enjoy talking to people either.. maybe it was that? She preferred to be alone at times, but with someone.. it was odd. "I don't know a thing." She states blatantly, then begins to walk.

The cane tip-taps upon the ground, pushing a thing or two out of the way so that her path was clear, her chin lifted, her nose quirking as she sniffs at the air, stopping.. then moving forward. "The earth beneath is blocked and ruined. I don't think you'd understand what I'm talking about. But I'm looking for a point, a point in the plane in between two worlds so that I can begin the healing. Though, I also am looking for a safe place so I can travel beneath. Magic-wagic stuff. Don't worry about it."

Bruce Banner nods, "I don't grok magic particularly myself. I acknowledge its existence, although I suspect there's a quantum explanation for it. Maybe dark matter, maybe involving the Higgs-Boson or another unknown microparticle," he sighs. "The world is full of strange things. Those we don't understand yet, we call magic," he says.

"So I take it you have perceptions beyond those manifest to human senses? Is that why you've been blinded, as a sort of balance?" he says. He can be blunt in his own right, but he keeps up with her easily enough.

"Possibly." She states. "There's an explanation for everything. I do not know much about science but I accept it. I know that.. the explanation of how human life is created deals with science in spades, as well to the very atom that is in our bodies. Some that are even long dead and gone." She taps the cane against the ground, then stops.

"Yes. I do.." She murmurs quietly, her brows raising, actually appreciating his blunt candor. There was only one other who was as blunt as him, and the man was possibly over a million years old. Gods, and all the like.

"Possibly. I'm not too sure as to why the reason I am blind. Though, there is part of me that wanted to submit myself to testing to SHIELD just to find out why I am the way that I am." She smiles wryly. "After four hundred years, you think I'd be able to figure that out by now."

Bruce Banner answers, "Explanations do not always come easily. It took thousands of years for us to reach our current level of scientific advance and I'm certain we're nowhere near the limits of knowledge," he says.

"I do not know about SHIELD. I am distrustful of militaristic entities, even if I somehow continually find myself allied with them. They tend to use others for their own agendas," he says. "I have medical knowledge, I'd be happy to give you an examination. Somewhere civilized, with proper facilities, of course," he says, then cocks his head as he hears the sound of something slithering in the rubble.

"Are you certain of that?" Reese asks, canting her head in his direction. With him being a scientist, he wouldn't be so freaked out by it. Though, whenever she looked directly at a normal person, they seemingly backed away from her or excused themselves from the conversation quickly. "Part of me is beliving that we've had the education for such scientific advantages before. But yet, somehow.. we lost them. It's just a fanatical theory, though." She smiles a little, but it fades almost immediately.

"And you're just one man. Whom I've just met. I was near when SHIELD was born. I'm slightly inclined to trust them more than a stranger." She wrinkles her nose. "But.. we'll see. I've lived a long time. If I'm to give up the ghost on your table, so be it." Who practices fatalism now?

The slithering up ahead causes her to stop, her breath inhaling as she turns her ear within that direction to listen. Her eyes shut briefly, the soft hum of her magics begin to dim as her eyes open, a pale blue light as she stares towards Bruce, focusing and studying his 'chi' to committ to memory before she turns her gaze towards the slithering mass up ahead. "What.." She murmurs quietly. "..is that.."

Bruce Banner nods, "A reasonable course of action," he says. "We all have only our own experiences upon which to base our decisions," he adds.

When he hears the slithering he steps forward slowly, setting aside his most delicate equipment in case of a swift transformation. Slowly, from behind the rubble, uncoils something that greatly resembles a cobra - they're near the remnants of the zoo - except for a couple of major difference. The first of these is size - the snake, reared up as it is, is nearly twelve feet high, with massive, drooling fangs and a body as thick as a tree trunk.

The second is that, instead of a traditional cobra's hood, a pair of spindly spider-legs, along with a set of eight eyes atop its head, mark it as some sort of strange, horrible hybrid. It hisses and leans forward, starting to spit webbing at the two as Bruce tries to keep himself between Reese and danger, "Behind me!"

Whatever this thing was, Reese couldn't see it. Her gift, the one thing that allows her to suss out life was whacked in a place like this. Maybe it was the implosion that had done it, or whatever horror that happened to this place. Either way, she couldn't figure out what the fuck that thing was, it was just a dark.. blur in an already blackened landscape.

"Oh my god.." She stammers, taking a slight step back as she holds onto her cane. She was preparing for a fight, to at least beat the thing with her stick until it was either dead or gone. But Bruce, this poor scientist was already attempting to take the fall for their ignorance, and it was something that Reese herself couldn't allow.

"No, we run!" She shouts out, trying to take off with a slight stumble, her hand attempting to grab upon the mans shirt to try to pull him out of the way. She could hear that slithering, the.. sound of the webbing being spat at them. Hopefully, she's tugged him out of the way enough for him to start running away with her help.

The webbing barely clings to his foot before she shoves him, ripping the cuff of his pants as he's torn loose. Well, it's not the first time he's lost a pair of trousers in the field.

He starts to run with her, grasping at her arm and moving to try and help drive her. Running may be futile, but it was worth a shot. Once he became the Hulk, it would be some time before he could change back - and he wasn't sure how safe Reese might be with another monster involved.

It didn't catch her! Thankfully, she actually wore shoes this time around and the clothes she wore (hospital scrubs), were already nearing the point of it's ragged state. The bag was swung against her backside as she tries to run with him. Her steps harsh, her hand outreached to grasp ahold of something but.. she was being steered by Bruce, who grip was becoming increasingly tight. She didn't say anything, she just kept pushing.. and it was terrifying.

The sound of it, as it slithered and crushed beneath its weight. The.. hiss? Imagine being blind to it all.. and running with a stranger who's face you've never felt. He was going to die. And it was going to be all her fault.

Bruce is actually fairly in shape for a nerd, in part because he's spent years on the run. He's not trying out for the NFL anytime soon but he can put up a good clip, pulling Reese along with him. They're stumbling through the rubble, banging knees, occasionally falling to pull one another up.

And all the time, the snake pursues, its eyes glowing with an eerie malovelence that hints that it might just be more than an ordinary animal.

* OOC Time: Thu Jul 21 17:48:39 2016 *

Everything was starting to hurt. The way they scramble and break out into runs. The harsh grip of his fingers upon her arm. Her digging into his and pulling him up to tug him along the way. Somewhere in there, her bag was lost and possibly slithered over. Water bottles crushed, she could hear the water rushing and staining the thick fabric and the contents within. Her chest was screaming for her to stop, but she couldn't. She couldn't even will herself to be dead weight so that Bruce could run her along.

Eventually she has to stop. And she chose this moment to do it.

She wretches herself from Bruce's grasp, pushing him as hard as she could at his back, her hand shooting out to fill him with a warm glow.. allowing it to expand outward to create a bubble of protective healing to his person. She was going to take the fall for this. Why not? She'll just come back hole.. if it doesn't bite her in the wrong place.

"Don't stop running! Just go!" She cries out. Funny. She didn't even get a chance to touch his face. She didn't even get a chance to tell everyone goodbye…

Bruce Banner finds himself shaken loose, just in time to see the snake starting to lunge at Reese. He's sure she's capable of something, but he isn't about to let that happen. He may be cold, to some people, and he may not always relate to people, but he's not the kind of bastard to just let a blind woman, even a magic one, take a hit that he can take.

He jumps and gets himself between its jaws and her at the last minute, taking the bite hard in the throat and falling back beneath it. His body arches as the pain hits, the agony, his blood spurting for a moment until his body starts to buck and shape, spasming.

And changing.

She may not be able to see it, but she can no doubt feel the sudden shift as the man becomes monster, jerking up as his body heals and ejects those fangs from his body. The snake-spider recoils in confusion, unsure of what to make of this sudden change.

And there's a scream. And a roar. And then, inevitably, a Hulk.

There was no need for her to close her eyes. Her visual landscape was always dark. From the time she was eightteen and on, a few of those years were spent doing horrific things in the name of boredom and because she thought she could conquer the world with but a whisper. Longevity, it makes things clear as time drones on and the only thing that one could change is the self. That's why her arms were open, finally accepting the sins and blights she affixed upon the world and wanting to pay penance with blood. With saving this one life.. one.. final..

The gust of air as the man pushes in front of her causes her to gasp. Her hand outstretched but it was too late. The blow that he takes in her stead knocks her back upon her ass, sprawling with arms flailing to stop her slide. "NO!" She shrieks out.. but.. there was nothing.

Total silence..

Save for the final growl of transformation. That growl leads into a scream, one that has her eyes opening wide as her entire body begins to tremble.

And in that moment, she knew true fear.

"Oh god.." She manages to murmur to herself. Jus.. just what happened to the little scientist?!

Hulk's attention, for the moment, is entirely focused on the demonic creature in front of him. It's already wary, having expected to feast upon its prey only to find something entirely other in its place. Still, it isn't quite bright enough to realize it can't possibly win.

So it lashes out, trying to bite, only this time its fangs break on the Hulk's steel-hard skin. And, once it's in his grasp, he wraps a massive hand around it and starts to squeeze, "Hulk not for biting!" he says, the grip starting to make the head of the thing bulge as he forces blood in both directions away from his grip, crushing the bones within the thing.

Despite her obvious affliction, Reese herself was a very, very healthy woman. Though the way that she currently breathes is suspect; near hyperventilating, her fingers pawing at the ground as she turns her ears to the sound and the roars.. the clash of teeth against the skin and the instant snap upon impact. She was shaking, turning and rolling upon her belly, her eyes squinting in a hint of pain as she tries to unfocus from the sound of her heart thudding loudly and beating within her chest.

She could hear the rocks beneath her thighs, scraping along as well as the sound of the bones crushing and cracking, Hulk's near immature voice screaming back at the thing has another shocking wave that goes through her body.. Bruce.. did.. it hurt Bruce? The only hearts she could hear in that area was her own.. the 'Hulk?', and the beasts.. which was slowly beginning to wane.

"Bruce.." She whispers quietly, her bottom lip trembling as she tries to slide away. "Bruce..?"

Hulk smacks the creature into the ground until it goes limp, swings 'em around and whacking it until there isn't much left inside its head but spider-snake pudding. When finished, he flings it, throwing it away through the wreckage of the city with a snort of disgust.

And then he turns and regards the blind woman trembling and realizes he's probably scaring the shit out of her. Which, ordinarily, Hulk would take pride in, but she's so small and scared and he almost feels…guilty. So, when she calls out for Bruce, he doesn't take offense the way he normally might at the invocation of the dreaded human side. "Banner come back. Hulk now," he says in his gravelly voice.

Each thud against the ground causes her head to shrink. Each pound draws shoulders up, down.. up.. down again, even a hand to shield from the spray of gravel and whatever muck came out of the snake monster during it's death. It wasn't something she wanted to hear. It was pure terror.

But it all was quiet, she could still feel the heat from the Hulk beating down upon her skin as she shook.. or was it her? Her generating that much heat that it makes her own skin feel like it was set on fire. And once he speaks? Her hand slowly lowers.. only allowing that tiny hint of her stark white eyes to be seen. "What?" She quietly murmurs..

"Y..you're .. Dr. Banner?"

Hulk snarls, "No, not Banner!" he says. "Hulk! Banner is…inside," he says. He finds the whole thing plenty confusing himself. "You eyes funny. Maybe not see Hulk. Banner and Hulk…same but different," he says, even though admitting that almost makes him gnash his teeth. It doesn't help that he can hear Joe laughing at him in the depths of his skull, calling him stupid.

"Hulk not stupid!" he says, smacking himself in the side of the head, the resultant noise like a small thunderclap. "Hulk not hurt little woman girl."

The snarl made her heart skip a beat. A huge beat. In fact, it felt like she died a little, then came back and meant to suffer through this fate of possibly being squeezed to death by .. whatever he was. "Okok okok ok ok.." Reese tries to console, even though her hands were shaking as she holds them up towards him, "..shh..shhh..shh.. I .. I get it. You're.. Hulk and.. Dr. Banner is.. in you." As he makes mention of her eyes, her trembling lips smile just a little, her hands slowly lowering to the ground to try to stand. But she couldn't, her legs were shaking too much.

"No no nonono! No nono.." She tries again, her hands out towards him now as if she wanted him to pick her up. Probably does. "I.. I know you won't hurt me. It's okay. You're not stupid.. shhh.. just.. it's going to be okay.. right?"

Hulk slowly moves into a crouch, getting closer to the height of the petite woman. Even squatting, he's massive by comparison, his broad body as wide as five of her next to one another. He seems to accept the calming, though and, when she reaches out, he tentatively reaches out and lets her feel his finger, even that single index finger a massive thing.

"You not call Hulk stupid. Other fake Hulk say it. In here," he says, pointing to his head. "Joe Hulk asshole," he mutters. "Why pretty lady in bad place? Not safe."

Her head turns as she hears him move, her brows lowering as he stops, her fingers first touching his and.. rearing back just a little. "You burn a lot of heat.." She finally says, reaching out again to grasp ahold of that finger to pull herself up, even if the.. man-Hulk before her scares her enough to run. But.. he seemed like the safest thing out here.

"You have another one of you in there?" She asks, keeping hold of that large finger to move herself just a little bit closer and out of view. If other monsters saw that fight just now? She was sure that they'd possibly run away and not bother to try to eat her with him there.

But.. she felt like she could at least be honest with the big man. Thinking about it all, her lips curl into a frown as she fidgets a little in place. "I .. I really don't know.." She admits, not wanting to cry about it but.. "… I.. I don't think I have anything left, really. It's.. complicated."

Hulk mmmmmmmmmmmmms and nods, "Hulk hate complicated. Hulk like simple. Good, bad. Food, sleep. Pretty, ugly," he says, gesturing between the two of them. "Lady seem sad. No be sad. Hulk stay and keep safe," he says.

"No think about other Hulk. Other Hulk say…" he says and then closes his mouth. He's not going to repeat the things that Joe Fixit is saying, mostly because he doesn't understand them, but he feels like they're probably bad.

"Me too, Hulk." She finally says his name, her head nodding slightly as she takes in a breath of air to laugh just a little. With that laugh, tears fall, and when those tears fall, she immediately draws her arm up to drag across her face to wipe away the tears. "You're not ugly either. I can tell where you were pointing." Heck, she didn't even know what he looked like. But if Hulk was staying, it was okay with her.

"You don't think about what he says." Reese says, using her hands to follow the trail of the Hulk, from his big meaty palm to his thick arms. It was there, that she tries to boost herself up, at least to try to settle on his forearm so that if he wants to walk? He can.

"A little help?"

Hulk shakes his head, "No cry," he says, reaching out clumsily with a big hand to try and wipe her cheeks. When she wants to move up against him, he's surprised, but does as she asks, helping to lift her up a bit as he moves to fully sit on the ground, letting her fit easily in the crook of his massive, tree-trunk bicep.

"It okay. Hulk know Hulk monster. That what they always yell when they shoot at Hulk."

Her cheeks were already dry, so when he wipes at them, he pushes her head back just enough or her to nearly stumble. NEARLY.

But, he helps her with a good push, the little woman finding that little niche and sitting there, drawing her feet up right to pull off her shoes and toss them to the side. Why pinch him with her sneakers when she could just be barefoot like she usually prefers?

"Well." Reese says matter of factly. The fear in her is lessening some, and she could see that.. the big man thing is just a little sweetie pie. "Have you ever tried smiling?" She shifts a little bit to where she thinks her face would be, then presses her fingers against her cheeks. She smiles -HUGE-, and for a woman who was usually deadpanned and flat faced, she was actually pretty. (Best believe, no one will ever see that smile ever again.)

"Like this?" She says through clenched teeth.

Hulk brings his hand up to his face and stretches his lips out to expose his teeth in an odd grimace. If anybody else could actually see this, they'd probably be horrified - he looks like he's in a wind tunnel. "Hulk usually angry. Hulk come out when Banner angry. Or Banner scared. Or Banner hurt," he says. "Hulk not come out at good times. Hulk stay inside then," he says.

He lets her proper her feet up on her other arm, becoming basically a big green hammock for the immortal healer.

In fact, if anyone actually sees this, they'd think them both crazy. She couldn't tell if he was smiling, but she assumes that he is. "See?" She says through clenched teeth. "Schmillle.."

She stops her own smiling for a moment, her bare feet lightly smacking against his arm. "So, that means you protect Mr. Banner." She says with a slight nod of her head. "It's like.. something inside of him, which is you, doesn't want to see him hurt. Doesn't want to feel his pain or wants to shield him from all of the bad. So you come out and fight and make everything go away." Her nose wrinkles as she tries to rationalize it.

"You're kind of like his hero. It seems like you let him have his happy and normal moments when you can." She reaches out to pat his bicep. "That doesn't sound all monster like to me."

Hulk wrinkles his nose, "Don't like Banner. Hulk no have choice. Just happen," he says. "I not let anything. Hulk just…go away," he says. "Banner say Hulk not real person. Just…thing made by gamma," he says.

"Banner smart. Maybe right," he says with a big, rippling shrug. "And Banner not happy much. He sad."

Reese visibly groans. "Well, I don't know you two.. three.. I mean. And.. god knows I spent centuries trying to fix men. I'm not going to start /that/ again." She laughs a little sadly at that irony. "But.. I get it. I guess."

She was tired after all of that running. And hungry. And just worn out. "I think I understand him. I understand sadness really well." She gives that big, muscled arm a little nudge too. "You seem sad as well. In a sense." She sniffs slightly, then carefully leans her head on his arm. "I think I'm just going to sit here for a while. Is that okay?"

Hulk considers, "Stay. Hulk watch," he says. He is quiet for a long moment, his massive, warm body enveloping her. "Hulk sad, yes," he says. "But sad bad. Too sad…Hulk go away," he says. "But you…make Hulk feel not so sad. So Hulk stay with you." he says. He cradles Reese and lets her rest against him, the great beast strangely at ease as he watches around looking for monsters that might crawl out of the dark.

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